James McClean hits out at Declan Rice over England switch

Republic of Ireland's James McClean.Republic of Ireland's James McClean.
Republic of Ireland's James McClean.
James McClean has told any other Irish player tempted to follow Declan Rice into the England squad to “sod off and play for someone else”.

Derry-born McClean played under-21 football for Northern Ireland but opted to represent the Republic at senior level, where he played alongside Rice until the West Ham midfielder switched allegiance.

Asked about Rice in an interview with Irish broadcaster RTE, McClean said: “He said he was a proud Irishman. Then he said he was a proud Englishman.

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“If he’s both... good luck to him but I don’t buy it. I think you’re either one or the other.

“I was with Derry City when I got the call-up to play for the North, and I turned it down because it’s not my country, it’s never been my country. I’m an Irishman.

“It’s not just Declan, it’s anyone else. If you’re not proud to be here and we’re a stepping stone, then sod off and play for someone else.

“I’m an Irishman. I grew up on the island of Ireland, simple as that. We only want players here who want to play for Ireland, who feel Irish and are proud to be Irish.”

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Rice, who played in three friendlies for Ireland, came on as a substitute for England in their 5-0 Euro 2020 qualifying win over the Czech Republic and made his full debut in Monday night’s 5-1 win in Montenegro.